George Mason University in Fairfax, VA announced via an official statement issued Thursday that Governor Glenn Youngkin was their choice of commencement speaker for graduation ceremonies in May.
Mason President Gregory Washington shared the following comment on the move in the aforementioned statement.
“We look forward to welcoming Governor Youngkin to speak to our graduating students, who we expect will comprise the largest and most diverse class of graduates ever .. Governor Youngkin’s drive for lifelong learning and his entrepreneurial mindset is what we cultivate in all of our graduates.”
As reported by WUSA9, the move has upset a number of students at the University who are protesting the selection via social media posts and a change.org petition.
The online “petition opposing Youngkin as the commencement speaker has garnered nearly 3,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
The petition was started by Alaina Ruffin.
“Selecting a speaker that has passed anti-trans legislation, promoted the abolishment of racial equity curricula, and restricted the availability of literature in public schools is an intentional target towards historically marginalized communities comprising Mason. It is harmful and disrespectful to the many students who continuously shape GMU’s community to bring in an individual who has also neglected the needs of Virginians,” Ruffin writes.
The Black, African-Heritage and Caribbean Coalition, a GMU organization, also posted an open letter to social media opposing the choice of Youngkin as speaker for the spring commencement.
“It is our responsibility as members of this community to stand up against bigotry and intolerance. We must demand that our administration acts and removes Youngkin as commencement speaker,” the letter reads.”
A number of Virginia’s former Governors have been commencement speakers at the school, including Virginia’s previous Governor Terry McAuliffe who spoke at the event in 2016.